Jamie Keehn and Reid Ferguson have faced the facts, and the ex-LSU specialists — Keehn a punter and Ferguson a long snapper — are perfectly fine admitting them.
“The norm is snappers don’t get drafted,” Ferguson said. “Last year, one snapper got drafted, and he was the first since 2008.”
“With our position,” said Keehn, the Australian punter, “we’re not going to get drafted.”
While other LSU players are inking six-figure contracts spanning at least three years, Ferguson and Keehn are hoping to sign short-term deals as undrafted free agents. After that, they must perform well enough at that franchise’s rookie minicamps in May to make it to training camp.
Then, they must avoid the cut list at camp — not easily done, especially for kickers.
“You don’t want to just be a camp leg,” said Keehn, a three-year starter for LSU and All-Southeastern Conference second-team member as a junior in 2014.
It’s a long, long road to making a team for these guys.
Their training seasons, though, aren’t so different than the likes of linebacker Deion Jones or defensive back Jalen Mills.
Ferguson, for instance, worked with a personal trainer in Atlanta for several weeks. He worked out from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. What does a snapper work on? Snapping.
Blocking too, Ferguson added.
“Everything I needed to do to make sure I was ready for the NFL,” said Ferguson, LSU’s snapper for the last four years and older brother to LSU redshirt freshman Blake Ferguson.
Like Vadal Alexander or Jerald Hawkins, Ferguson conducted private workouts for NFL teams. He declined to name them, but there were five, he said. About 10 more franchises contacted him.
“Right now, I’m looking at teams that have older snappers, snappers that their contracts might be about to run out,” Ferguson said. “I’ve got to research.”
Keehn’s doing the same, searching for the franchise that will provide him with the best opportunity to land on an active roster in the fall. He said he has heard from the Jets, Broncos, Redskins, Texans, Falcons and Packers.
They’re all showing interest in a guy who averaged no worse than 40 yards per punt in his three seasons — despite a nagging injury he only revealed after his college career.
Keehn had surgery in February 2015 for a sports hernia. The injury flared up at the start of the season last year. The pain didn’t subside until after he rested the injury during the team’s open date.
“It was feeling great at the end of spring and through summer (last year),” he said. “It started nagging me at the beginning of the season. You really need to rest it. There was some scar tissue in there.”
He rested it and completed the season pain-free. Five months later, he’s 100 percent healthy and is hoping to be one of few punters to sign a free-agent deal. Only about “four to six” rookie punters each year sign and make it to training camp, Keehn said.
“The feeling is I’m definitely going to get a camp somewhere,” he said. “I’ve done everything I can to get teams interested.”